Acts 17:11 Archives

Prophetic Training and Growth

In answer to the question, "Do prophets need training? Can they be wrong?" by Dean VanDruff.

Yes, to both questions.

1Cor 14:32 (KJV) And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
The verse above principally means you should control yourself (hold a prophecy given to you till it will be in order to speak) it can also refer to the collective prophetic gift given to the body--in other words: other prophets.

This is the New Covenant, not the Old. In the Old, prophets were few and far between, and always right or "stoned". In the New, we have quantity but not quality: rather than God pouring out His Spirit on very few "perfect" prophets, now He is pouring out His Spirit on "all flesh". Thus, in the Old you submitted to the rare prophet or else. There is nothing like this in the New Testament, just the opposite. We are ordered to test the prophets... and each prophecy. So there is a huge difference between the covenants. We all must learn (in safety, it can be hoped) how to use the Spiritual gifts, including prophecy. Since each believer is responsible to discern the truth (1Jo 2:20), and capable of doing this, the New is much better than the Old.

I liken this to learning to ride a bike, or learning to do anything else. Failure is inevitable, and even useful, to gain expertise. For example, I would not be so confident in Christ as a teacher if I had not taught falsely early on. But I know what demonic doctrine feels like coursing through me--it was thrilling, actually. God nearly killed me in rebuke, but spared my life. Now I know false doctrine by "smell", and am a better and more humble teacher because of it. If I consider something new and suspicious, even if "deep", I do not rush out to speak, I test it with those whom I have clearly seen the Spirit work in. If they are not really excited, I drop it. For "no scripture if of private interpretation" (1Pt 1:20). I serve best in my gifting in submission to others, and this provides significant safety as well.

Beyond "playing it safe" in the corporate body by mutual submission, there is being bold in the moment God wants us to be. Here I think I can offer you something that might be of help.

De 19:15b (NIV) A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

2Co 13:1b "Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses."

Surely you know this verse from its "receptive" end, as in "confirmation". But consider it from the other end. What this means is that you can take prophetic risks... because people who are following God's Spirit will never do what you say or take what you say seriously by "one witness" only. Thus, we can be bold and humble in dispensing prophecies. Right? Never give a prophecy with an attitude of "do what I say, or else" (unless God is saying this through you, of course) but rather in contrite submission. If you feel led to say something you feel God is saying to another in the body, do not go with a phony human hype attitude, go with proper humility (Ro 12:3, 1Pe 4:11a) and state "I really think God wants me to tell you... Now, will you test this by the Holy Spirit in you and let me know?" If you get lots of confirmation, you will become more expert and confident in discerning God's voice. If you get lots of dumb stares, you will learn to not mistake do-good intentions and carnal suspicions for the Lord's still-small-voice. Great training, either way.

Do you see how God has set this up? It is not up to you to always be right. What a relief, eh? You must always be available, and humble, and willing, and circumspect. But He might choose to humble you through a horrible mistake, rather than prophecy through you, especially if you are only "aping" humility. This is good, as we know we need to be humble, and God often "helps" us along in this regard by publicly exposing our folly. <smiles> And if we are "right" don't let this seep too far into your bones. It is not really you, but Christ in you. Feel really good about that: that your name is written in His book, but do not take "ministry" to yourself (Lk 10:20). For what seems like failure can often be success, and vice versa.

This "by two or three" practice of believers give us exceptional freedom. Know that it is not up to you. You are but one witness. Thus, be at rest and peace. You have the freedom to fail, and God can use even that for His eventual glory.

Be very careful never to use the Name of the Lord "in vain", in misuse. Never on your own initiative say: "Thus says the Lord". If you do, you will not be held guiltless as concerns sin (Ex 20:7), an eternally serious matter. If God commandeers your voice and says these words, then that is His business. If He tells you to say it, then do so; of if you are reading from scripture. But never out of hype, or imitation of the present evil "prophetic" practices of the church, fall into this. If you already have, repent immediately.

You do not have to be an arrogant blowhard to be a prophet. In fact, this is a sure sign of a false prophet. Real prophets are in pain, they are humble, they do not enjoy or relish the sharpness of the messages God has put in their hearts. So be humble, be sensitive. You can expose sin with Godly creativity ("you are the man" 2Sa 12:1) and also vividly feel the pain of what you are doing to condemn the flesh of the other person. Even "positive" prophecies cause pain to sacred cows of unbelief and death to mental idolatry. So go with the sword of the Lord, but use it skillfully and without malice... to simply circumcise what God wants cut off that is of flesh, and no more.

Personally, I am not that keen on formal "schools" for prophets, as I rather think the full church as God has chosen it is the proper training ground. Such prophetic schools show up in Scripture, both of false and presumably true (1 Sam 10, 2 Kings 9:1, 1Ki 22:10-end, etc.). For specific advice on such training: I would just trust God and go, perhaps with a little bit of skepticism. Submit to the Lord in others, younger or older. Do not submit to haughty men, religion, peer-pressure, or people who "want to be first" like Diotrephes. (3Jo 1:9) Submit to those who pour out their lives for you in service.

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